Facebook’s Snapchat envy continues.
Facebook is testing another new product that looks and feels very similar to — you guessed it — Snapchat.
The social network built a new camera and messaging feature that Facebook says will let users “share moments as they happen and express yourself more.” The camera includes a number of optional special effects like facial masks, and once a photo or video is opened you’ll have 24 hours to respond to it otherwise it’ll disappear.
Stop us if you’ve heard this before.
Yes, this new camera sounds a lot like Snapchat’s disappearing messages, which shouldn’t be a surprise given how many times Facebook has tried to copy Snapchat’s ephemeral messaging product in the past.
What’s different this time is that Facebook built this product into its flagship app — the app with 1.7 billion users. Previous efforts to capture the Snapchat magic were presented as standalone apps like Poke and Slingshot. This new camera even comes with a separate inbox inside the core Facebook app, which means you don’t need to use Messenger to send these photos and videos back and forth.
The camera is just a test, and it’s only available in Ireland for now. But it’s not difficult to read between the lines. Ever since spurning CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s acquisition attempt, Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel and Co. have emerged as Facebook’s greatest threat for the next wave of mobile-friendly teenagers. And that’s why Facebook and Instagram keep trying to replicate Snapchat’s fun features, from facial filters to Stories to funky one-to-one messages.
This update appears to be more of the same.
If the camera looks familiar to you, it’s because Facebook tested something like it right around the Olympics in a few international markets. That test was successful enough, or at least intriguing enough, to continue.